So long Midwest Division. Adios three divisional conferences. Hello newly formatted, restructured, two division conferences. The American Hockey League’s President and CEO David Andrews announced that the league’s Board of Governors, convening for its Spring Meeting today in Chicago, has approved the following division alignment for the 2015-16 AHL season:
All told, I think this new divisional alignment works rather nicely and seems to mirror what the NHL did not too long ago. The format of how the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs have yet to be finalized but I’d hazard to guess that too could mirror the NHL’s current structure. That is expected to be finalized by the Board of Governors around July 6-9 during their Annual Meetings held in South Carolina.
The Admirals will remain pretty well nestled with some familiar teams but get the return of some others as well. Fellow Midwest Division rivals the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, Grand Rapids Griffins, and Lake Erie Monsters will all be back once again. Meanwhile the Iowa Wild, who were in the Midwest Division in the 2013-14 season, and the Charlotte Checkers, who were in the Midwest Division in the 2011-12 season, both join the mix. Then there is the return of the Manitoba Moose, last featured in the 2010-2011 season, who polish off the brand new Central Division.
Of note, there are a few teams that have crossed conferences during the new alignment: Rochester Americans, Toronto Marlies, and Utica Comets. That of course comes without even mentioning all those new Pacific Division based teams. To which, looking at that division, I feel slightly bad for those two Texas squads and the travel they’ll get to log for the coming season. However, if it means the Pacific Division plays a full schedule like the rest of the AHL (remember the chatter of those teams playing a lesser schedule?), then I tip my cap and applaud the Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage for biting the bullet for the rest of the league.
What is your reaction to the new AHL alignment for the 2015-16 season? Did they get it right? How will the Milwaukee Admirals handle the new Central Division? If the Pacific Division still doesn’t end up playing a full schedule how does the AHL format the playoffs?